The Truth Behind "Fleet Annie"

by Bob 'Dex' Armstrong

I'm going to say it straight out... You boat sailors are going to have to take this one 'cold turkey'. There's NO Fleet Annie - Never was. Me 'n Jack Mulvanney created her. That's the truth. 'Dex' n' Jack were absolute proof that the submarine school's screening process failed to filter out all the idiots... It was like a birth control diaphram that you could get a bowling ball through. We were certifiable idiots, our credentials backed by testimonials from both the exec and COB.

Jack and I got a lot of doo-doo assignments in our non rated days. One day, we were sent as a working party of two, to pick up 'flash covers' for the new mattresses we got in the yard. For those of you who may have forgotten, a flash cover was a naugahide-like cover for your mattress. They were green and for the first three months the sonuvabitches smelled like airplane glue.

Nasty things... On hot nights when you crawled up on one, sweaty and stripped to the waist, you stuck to it like a gahdam air mail stamp.

Well, they gave me 'n Jack this truck... Kind of the military version of a pick-up... And we lit out... In the non-rated world, unsupervised boondoggles with a truck thrown in, don't happen every day.

When we arrived at the building at N. O. B., the clown who owned the magic fanny we had to kiss to get the flash covers was 'at chow'. 'At chow' for shore duty folks can last anywhere from two hours to two weeks. Jack and I crawled up and stretched out in the truck bed.

There we were, flat on our backs staring up into a clear blue sky, contemplating the complex issues surrounding national security, when we noticed this big water tank above us. Written on the side in gigantic blue letters is "NAVAL SUPPLY NORFOLK" and under it, it read "SERVICE TO THE FLEET SINCE 1906".

"Hey Jack, what a great tatoo THAT would make for some old retired East Main hooker..."

"Yeah, great... Fleet Annie - Service to the Fleet Since 1906..."

Then we spent two hours creating Fleet Annie. She was an old lady... Kinda like Mary Poppins. When she got too old to market her product in the competitive commercial world, she decided to give it away to non rated guys who had the duty and couldn't get ashore. Kind of the big kid version of the Tooth Fairy. Annie became totally invisible to anyone owning a kahki uniform. Jack also talked me into saying that Annie would also distribute her free favors to non-quals - since Jack, the co-inventor of Annie, was non qualified. I agreed, knowing full well that this went against the tradition of SUBRON 6. We figured that Annie was so good, it would be quick - therefore, it wouldn't take long and she could whisper stuff in your ear about the trim and drain system.

You must remember, we were not only non rated, but non rated idiots... Paired up.

Annie had this tatoo on her left breast... A fouled anchor through dolphins with a pink ribbon below it reading "SERVICE TO THE FLEET SINCE 1906". No fantasy was official without this official SUBRON 6 logo.

Annie was the Patron Saint of the Deck Force. Senior leadership never understood why when the animals passed each other they exchanged the obligatory, "How's Annie?"

Once, we actually saw Annie... Montevideo '62 - '63... Old wrinkled lady on the seawall... Black dress... Granny shoes... Black straw hat... Little white gloves. We were sliding along the waterfront, breaking out mooring lines and wetting down heavies, when some idiot yelled, "Hey, there's ANNIE!!!" Within seconds, 15 guys are jumping up and down yelling, "HEY, ANNIE!!" and waving like fools.

Poor old lady probably got home that night and said,

"Pedro... No go Disneyland... American sailors totally nuts... No trust... Boatload of complete idiots in town tonight." Perceptive lady...

Like all those frogs girls have to kiss in order to find the prince... Do you realize how many old ladies bras we're going to have to peek in to find the real genuine Fleet Annie? At our age, we don't have a helluva lot of time to complete this historical work.

Start today.